Monday, 22 October 2012

Immersion: Creative Media Badges 1

I'm halfway through my first term in a new job. I'm teaching Creative Media to Year 7s and 8s ( aged 11 to 13). This is not a National Curriculum subject. Nor does it sit comfortably in any standard subjects. Echoing Ken Robinson, I've been saying that it's not a subject it's a discipline and leaving it at that.  In preparation for this term I cobbled together a  Policy document. The Design Thinking  process seemed to me the best way of describing the kinds of processes needed to create media. So, logically it should be possible to assess those processes. I baulk somewhat at thinking about assigning levels and marks to a creative process. But reluctantly I've started thinking about the best way to do it. Like everywhere else in our current education system it's not enough to "just know" students are making progress.
I've been interested for some time in the Mozilla Open Badges project since following Dr Doug Belshaw on twitter - @dajbelshaw. I'm not planning to go into the theory here, save to say that badges are awarded for a particular challenge and are available for display on the internet. Open badges can be displayed on social networks but Mozilla also offer a backpack where you can display badges awarded by a whole range of educational institutions. 
When you use a wide range of Web. 2.0 site , as we do, it's pretty difficult to access evidence, and even more difficult when the product involves moving images and sound - folders of printouts just don't cut it. It's important to have some kind of e-portfolio, not just for assessment purposes, but also if one is trying to promote a participatory culture in your classroom.

I'm just on the verge of launching my students into the creation and keeping of an e-portfolio. We'll be using Google Sites (part of the Google Apps for Education suite) to create our e-portfolios and the home page seems like the perfect place to display badges. Students will be awarded badges which they will hyperlink to evidence of their achievements elsewhere in the portfolio.
Currently I'm thinking there will be six different badges to take them through the Design Thinking process. Each badge will have one, two or three stars (thank you Angry Birds). I've created a set of badges which are available for you to use if you wish from a Picasa Web Album. I haven't settled on a final size for the badges yet, so the album contains some "swaps".


Once I'd created the badges using Powerpoint and Paint.net (the fun bit), the serious (and difficult) bit comes next - writing the "challenges" for which the badges are to be awarded.  I've created a page (click the badge at the top of the page) which explains what evidence must be displayed to be awarded a badge. 

I started with the initial process: Immersion. I like the term because to call it research suggests a clear idea of what one is looking for and it's important to keep your mind clear of fixed ideas when beginning a creative process. It seems to me that the evidence should be a collection of  ideas, sources and examples. The evidence could be: web links, images, notes, screenshots, emails, comments, quotes etc. To achieve a second star the collection should be annotated. For the third star there should be clear evidence that interesting ideas are being pursued and that the collection isn't completely random. It's likely some kind of mind mapping will be good for this. Now I'm very aware that I don't do these things when I'm immersing myself in a project but if evidence of my thought processes were required I could. Perhaps I would be more efficient if I did annotate and organise more often.
I think it's important that the criteria for achieving more stars are available to all, allowing students to move ahead if they choose, so there will be a link on their home page under each badge to a page like the one I've linked to from the badge above.
How will these challenge criteria connect with National Curriculum levels? Well clearly they don't completely, but if, as I hope, they will realistically describe the spread of ability for 11-14 year olds, then we're talking about NC levels 4 - 6, with complete collections of three star badges being the beginning of Level 7 and an incomplete collection of one star badges being Level 3.
There are plenty of badges I'm intending to add once the star charts are complete including : Collaboration, Mentoring and Sharing. It would be possible to respond to requests for new badges for students. 
I'd be pleased to hear any thoughts readers may have; either on this post or in the comment section of the criteria page - I'm toying with the idea of calling them stargets....